"They're screaming again," Regulus told his brother, sneaking into the elder's room with a plate of food that he'd nicked from the kitchens.
"Is it about me?" Sirius had asked, and Regulus just looked at him, not feeling the need to give the answer to a question they both knew.
"Of course it's about me," Sirius muttered bitterly, "it's always about me these days. Sirius Black, the disappointment."
"You're not a disappointment."
"Don't lie to me, Reg, I know it, you know it, every single pureblood witch and wizard knows it."
"They don't understand."
"Will they ever?"
"The truth will hit them if you leave."
The two brothers –almost identical by this point –stared at each other, each equally surprised at the words that had slipped out of Regulus's mouth, sounding much more dramatic than they would have if they'd been spoken rather than breathed.
"What?" Sirius asked, not daring to raise his voice higher than the faintest whisper. He dimmed the light from his wand even lower than before.
"I just think that they would finally understand that this isn't a phase –that you're not just doing this to make them angry –if you left."
"What would happen to you?"
Regulus looked down at his lap, avoiding his brother's eye at all costs.
"It's obvious, isn't it?" He asked, his voice even quieter than before.
Sirius stared at his brother, unwilling to make any guesses about what was being implied. He didn't want to be right.
"I'm the Slytherin brother, aren't I? I'm expected to join them in a year. I'll do it, if it means that you can have the spotlight taken off of yourself."
"Don't you dare join the Death Eaters, Reg." Sirius snarled, forcing his brother's face up, his silvery eyes flaming with a furious fire. "Don't you ever ruin your life like that."
"My life would be ruined anyway, wouldn't it? You can't take me with you, and we know that I'd never be strong enough to escape alone; I'm not you or Andy. My future has been determined, and there's nothing I can do about it."
"You can fight this," Sirius whispered, releasing his brother, his bout of fury gone as quick as it'd come. "You can say no. I'll get you out. I won't leave you behind."
"But you already have, to be honest. You left me behind the moment you got sorted into Gryffindor –maybe before that. The moment you stopped being the perfect child. The moment you saw light. You abandoned me. But it's okay; I'd rather you get out now and leave me than both of us getting trapped."
And Sirius watched as his brother slid off of his bed in one fluid move, walking quickly to the door. Regulus looked back at Sirius for one more second, his expression one that was difficult to read, so many emotions were in it.
The only one Sirius could successfully pick out in the second his brother lost his calm mask was fear. Fear for himself, fear for his brother, fear for the world that they lived in.
And Sirius knew that he had to leave –and that he had to do it without saving his brother.
Sirius Black was gone that night, leaving not a trace of his life at the old house, nor a clue as to where he'd gone.
They've marked me a year early.
I'm glad you got out alive.
Don't write back –the owl won't find me.
Always your brother,
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